(Photo/The Indiana Citizen)

By John Asplund and DeMarion Newell

March 8, 2024

The 2024 legislative session officially closed Friday, with Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, declaring “sine die” around 9:30 p.m.

While the General Assembly’s Republican supermajority touted success in passing bills to improve students’ reading skills and upgrade Hoosiers’ water lines, Democrats criticized their refusal to eliminate the “pink tax” or to account for the Family and Social Services Administration’s $1 billion shortfall.

“I am pleased to have completed another productive session that delivers results for Hoosiers,” said Bray in a press release.

“We addressed a number of issues in our agenda, including providing more support so our students have the foundational reading skills they need to succeed and taking steps to make child care more accessible. We also built upon our track record of fiscal responsibility and passed a measure to help improve our water infrastructure across the state. I’m proud of the work my colleagues and I have accomplished and look forward to the positive impact these and other new laws will have on our state.”

Meanwhile, a release from Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, called the removal of an amendment from Senate Bill 256 to investigate the FSSA shortfall a “cover up.”

“When the Republican administration makes a billion-dollar mistake, the Republican legislature has choices to make. They can try to get to the root of it and hold people accountable, or they can try to bury the issue. They can make sure that families with seriously disabled children are protected from this error, or they can let the poorest among us suffer.

“Refusing to even attempt to uncover how this mistake occurred and prevent something of this nature from happening again shows that the wrong choices have been made.”

It was a long day at the Statehouse Friday, the round of rules committee meetings, House and Senate sessions, and behind-closed-door caucuses starting some 12 hours before the final fall of the gavel.

In the end, of the more than 700 bills that started this year’s short session, some 175 made it through the grueling process to land on the the desk of Gov. Eric Holcomb, who now must decide to sign them into law, allow them to become law without signing them, or veto them.

All the bills heard in the Indiana General Assembly Friday passed. Some highlights:

Senate Bill 4 is a bill that sets up an ongoing process to review and return unused state government funds to the General Fund, enabling state agencies to lower or eliminate fines and fees more quickly. “SB 4 conference committee report is a compilation of three bills: Senate Bill 4, Senate Bill 137—both of those passed this chamber unanimously—and Senate Bill 297, which passed this chamber with bipartisan support,” said Sen. Chris Garten, R-Charlestown, an author of the bill.

Senate Bill 282, if signed into law, will establish a truancy prevention program.

According to Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, sponsor of SB 282, the program will pertain to kindergarteners through sixth graders who have missed five unexcused days in a 10-week period.

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, cautioned that real-world problems can lead to chronic absenteeism. Before the pandemic, he said he spent a day in a third-grade classroom and saw a student who came in late looking angry.

“So I asked the teacher about it later, and he said, yeah. Here’s the thing. The kid’s mother, a single mom, has a work shift where she’s not home in the morning when the kids have to get up for school. So she gave the third grader the job of getting his little sister out of bed and to school. … Now he’s late for school.”

Pierce said when schools adopt attendance policies, they should take these kinds of situations into consideration.

Senate Bill 15 “requires that the Indiana Department of Labor consult with the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs to create and distribute a veterans’ benefits and services poster.”

House Bill 1183, authored by Rep. Kendell Culp, provides that a prohibited person may not purchase, lease, or acquire real estate within a 10-mile radius of a military installation.

“There are two parts to this bill that includes only the four main countries of adversarial relations, which are China, Russia, North Korea and Iran,” Culp said. “It prohibits any real estate transaction, not just farmland, within the 10 miles.”

Senate Bill 23 makes recklessly or intentionally damaging a jail or prison building fire suppression system a level 6 felony.

Senate Bill 140 will allow logjams to be removed without securing a permit.

Senate Bill 148 is an Indiana Department of Workforce Development bill that is looking to make sure funded programs are getting good results.

Senate Bill 179 makes changes to a commission on court appointed attorneys.

Senate Bill 238 would allow Jefferson, Elkhart and Knox counties to increase their innkeeper’s tax.

John Asplund and DeMarion Newell are reporters for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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